How to Make Your Organization More Diverse and Queer-Friendly?
It took us nearly two decades to repeal one section of Section 377. On the one hand, the reality is that the queer community faces daily struggles with identity, basic rights, and bodily safety; on the other hand, we envision queer community members holding aspirational positions in organizations.
How can companies help bridge this gap in a holistic way?
We spend approximately half of our day, if not more, at work, so our co-workers are the people we meet and see the most during the week, and some of them become part of our work family. However, not every workplace is as diverse as we would like it to be. Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace have numerous advantages for both employers and their employees. Creating a diverse workplace is not a passing fad; it provides tangible and direct benefits while lowering employee turnover.
There isn’t enough research in India, but research from other parts of the world shows that companies that demonstrate inclusivity and create enabling environments outperform every metric – economic performance, innovation, talent, attraction, retention – everything.
Despite recent developments in LGBTQ+ rights in many countries, most countries still do not provide legal protection for LGBTQ+ employees.
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So, let’s look at some ways you can be part of the solution.
1. Establish and Enforce Policies
The first step toward creating an LGBTQ+ friendly workplace is to establish specific policies outlining your company’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights. You’re behind the times if you don’t have one of these policies.
However, simply having a policy is insufficient. You should also make it very clear what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour at your company and set up procedures for dealing with people who violate your policies. Then you must carry out those processes, ensuring that any allegations of discrimination or harassment are taken seriously.
2. Modify Your Hiring Procedures
If you have LGBTQ+ friendly policies in place, you’ve now established a foundation for welcoming LGBTQ+ employees. But what if your hiring practices make it difficult for people to join in the first place? Even if you haven’t been actively discriminating, your job advertisements may have sent the wrong message, or you may have succumbed to unconscious bias during the recruitment process.
To avoid this, make a point of emphasizing your commitment to equality and diversity, as well as discussing other company values or LGBTQ+ friendly benefits that demonstrate that commitment. Collaborate with LGBTQ+ employee networks and organizations in your community. Participate in LGBTQ+ recruitment events.
3. Provide Training to your employees
Remember that most people will not sit down and read those lengthy policies you wrote. Provide your employees with diversity training that includes a module on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Training can help ensure that they understand what is in those policies, why LGTBQ+ rights are important in your organization, and what their responsibilities are.
4. Participate in Events
Every year, events are held in countries all over the world to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. The largest are Pride parades and festivals, where millions of people take a stand against bullying and in support of LGBTQ+ youth.
Participating in these events demonstrates your commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and sends a clear message to your employees and customers about where you stand. Check out this massive list of LGBTQ+ events around the world to see what’s coming up in your country and when they’re happening.
5. Establish Networks
LGBTQ+ employee networks can be very effective ways for workers to connect and share their experiences. This can result in positive policy changes as well as opportunities for mentoring, networking, and career advancement for individual employees.
Set one up in your company, or encourage employees to band together and form their own network. You could create a network for allies in addition to one for LGBTQ+ employees (heterosexual and cisgender people who support LGBTQ+ rights).
6. Increase Benefits
Make certain that the wording of benefits such as health insurance or life insurance never excludes same-sex partners and provides support for transgender people’s medical needs. If LGBTQ+ employees are taxed differently than other employees for their benefits, compensate them for this. By taking these steps, you can distinguish yourself as a truly LGBTQ+ friendly workplace.
7. Raise Your Voice
The fight for LGBTQ+ rights is still ongoing, and members of the business community can have a significant impact on it by speaking out. They can also help their own employees in the process.
Companies can influence events and help their employees by taking a stand on issues like this. So, keep your finger on the pulse of the issues that are important and speak up about them.
8. Collaborate with Experts
Even if you have good intentions and consider yourself an ally, you may not be knowledgeable enough about the LGBTQ+ community to design programmes and policies on your own.
There are numerous LGBTQ+ professional organizations that can provide resources such as training, advice, policy development assistance, and more.
Workplaces aren’t always as welcoming to LGBTQ+ people as they should be. Discrimination is alive and well, and even if you don’t believe it exists in your workplace, you must take steps to ensure that you are providing a truly inclusive work environment for all of your employees.
The good news is that many of the steps we’ve examined are neither expensive nor difficult to implement. Supporting events, fine-tuning your recruitment strategies, and developing employee networks all take time and effort, but they are within the reach of any business, large or small.
So, get started right away.
Educate the employees